360AM — Morning news briefing for Monday, Apr. 9 (Updated: 8pm ET)

BREAKING: Discovery laid off 200 positions, or 3% of its workforce, today. Details are here.

The Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau‘s rejection of the eBay online marketplace was partly based on a 2% fee per transaction that Hallmark Channel EVP of ad sales Bill Abbott called "huge… we live and die on those 2 to 3 percentages." Other complaints by cable networks who ixnayed their involvement via the CAB: the system didn’t save time (still relying on manual calculations for ratings and cable subscribers) or incorporate product integration and added value elements. eBay’s response: it’s a work in progress, help us build it. [MediaPost]

Baseball on TV continues to make waves: the Dish Network adds MASN and MASN2 as AP reports Comcast customers are up in arms over C-SPAN2 programming being bumped to make room for MASN-televised games; Baltimore Sun also covers the furor. DirecTV‘s carriage spat with FSN Midwest leads to St. Louis Cardinals blackouts and disgruntled fans, some of whom are reinstating their cable service. [PJ Star | The Birdhouse]

Retailers look to fight digital delivery of movies and TV programming, including cable video on demand, by embracing online movie download services: Best Buy is in talks to start one, Wal-Mart already has one and Blockbuster (having kicked at Movielink earlier this year) aims to be in the digital download business by year-end. [AP] At least one network of smaller retailers is embracing cable, as Comcast and Home Entertainment Source, a network of specialty electronics retailers, sign deal allowing HES member dealers to sell, install and activate Comcast’s cable and Internet services but not (yet) phone. [CE Pro

DirecTV pres/CEO Chase Carey resigned his seat on the News Corp. board. [AP]

Verizon launched FiOS TV in Arlington, MA. [Release]

Consumers Union finds that some ISPs including Earthlink, Qwest and AT&T charge early termination fees while Comcast and Time Warner Cable charge none.

DVR ad-skipping affects political ads, which fare better online [Release]. A Burst Media poll says over 20% of "likely voters" surveyed have already visited a presidential candidate’s website.

Sprint Nextel chairman/CEO Gary Forsee received $14.8 million in compensation last year. [AP]

RCN sponsors D.C. United, Washington’s MLS franchise, after several years’ lapse. [Release]

• OPERATORS

Insight Communications CEO Michael Willner addresses last week’s Comcast deal with his customers on BroadbandReports.com.

Charter Communications slaps a Los Angeles law firm with a $150 million malpractice suit, alleging "critical errors" during a 1999 acquisition of cable systems. [Release]

Time Warner Cable confirms its Sprint-enabled wireless telephone service is coming to Wisconsin this year. The Pivot-branded mobile service is now in TW’s Raleigh, NC; Austin, TX; Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio markets [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]. TWC also expanded its VOD offering of movies in its north Texas market, adding hundreds of titles (from 99 cents to $1.99) in four categories—classic, kids & teens, action, comedy—of what it’s calling a Virtual Video Store. The company also completed its $5 billion debt offering today [Release].

Comcast launched digital phone in Lansing, MI [Lansing State Journal] and Florida’s Broward County; Miami-Dade launches in June [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]. Comcast’s ad sales division Spotlight named Jeff Carroll VP of its Houston market and Ingrid Nelson as VP/GM in San Francisco.

The FCC-mandated July 1st deadline for set-top boxes with CableCARDs will increase monthly fees for cable operators and competitors including RCN, which has requested a waiver. [Boston Herald | Engadget]

Rogers Communications, Canada’s largest cable operator, agreed to buy 10 stations from CTVglobemedia to bolster its broadcasting division; the deal is subject to approval. [Bloomberg]

• PROGRAMMING

BBC Worldwide America president Garth Ancier poached Michael Ross as EVP-business affairs and operations; he was EVP-business affairs, the CW. [Variety]

BET launched a mobile fan club around its 106 & Park music franchise. [Release]

ESPN2 HD is now available in all Cable One markets.

HBO‘s final unspooling of The Sopranos‘ long farewell inspires this New York Times eulogy. Preparing for life after The Sopranos, HBO hired Stephen Moyer as the male lead opposite Anna Paquin in the pilot for True Blood, Alan Ball’s post-Six Feet Under vampire drama. [The Hollywood Reporter] HBO’s also adapting "small plays" into films such as Caryl Churchill’s A Number, an original movie it’s co-producing with the BBC. [THR]

here! TV announced here! at the Movies, a half-hour movie review series hosted by Ben Harvey that will run on its video-on-demand platform, online (at heretv.com, AOL, MSN and Google Video) and on iTunes.

MSNBC tangled in Don Imus flap, with racism charges and calls for his resignation hitting his TV home. [New York Times] Update: CBS Radio and MSNBC today suspended Imus, taking his radio broadcast/TV show off the air for 2 weeks starting Monday. [TVNewser | Release]

MSNBC.com launches local sites with news, weather, traffic and sports from NBC affiliates.

Nickelodeon profiled in Sunday’s New York Times feature on exec. producer Dan Schneider and the network’s  next breakout star: Miranda Cosgrove, the precocious School of Rock alum who’s playing Nick’s iCarly this fall.

Scripps Networks is taking its "green" programming to MIPTV, including HGTV’s Living With Ed, a series about actor Ed Begley’s eco-conscious lifestyle that’s now shooting its second season. [Release]

Sorpresa!, the Hispanic kids net, hits 700,000 subscribers. [Release]

Speed Channel promoted Hunter Nickell to president, from EVP/GM. [Release]

Turner today launched USL Live, a broadband channel featuring United Soccer Leagues’ first division games on a subscription or pay-per-view basis. Turner also manages the websites for NASCAR and PGA Tour.

Versus HD signed a national agreement with Time Warner Cable in time for this week’s National Hockey League playoff games; now it’s up to individual systems to launch it. [TVPredictions]

• TECHNOLOGY

Akimbo launches on Windows PC, allowing users to bypass a monthly subscription fee and pay per video download. Akimbo also announced a deal to offer NHL playoff games.

AOL launches AOL Search Marketplace, offering Google AdWords-like system for search ads. [MediaPost]

Apple announces 100 million iPod sales, 2.5 billion songs sold and over 50 million TV shows downloaded from the 350-plus series in its TV library. It also has a new competitor: Sansa Connect, a wireless MP3 player from Yahoo, SanDisk and Zing Systems, aims to compete with the iPod by enabling Web downloads of music even when users aren’t near a PC. [WSJ]

Cisco helps the Pentagon deliver high-speed Internet access to mobile military units by participating in the demo for IRIS, or Internet Protocol Routing in Space, which is being funded by private investors. [Wall Street Journal]

Microsoft brings instant messaging to TV via Xbox 360. [New York Times]

Vuze (a broadband TV downloading site) attracts more than 2 million unique monthly visitors in first two months with TV content from Showtime (including Weeds, Dexter, The L Word), Starz, AETN (A&E, Hstory, Biography), G4, National Geographic and the BBC. The site rents episodes (such as BBC’s Sorted) for 99 cents each.

Bloggers call for code of conduct, including banning anonymous comments, deleting libelous comments and not saying anything online that you wouldn’t say in person. [New York Times | Bloggers Code]

BusinessWeek profiles media moguls turned Webpreneurs Michael Eisner, Herb Scannell and Stephen Bochco.

BW also urges the annual Catalyst Awards to reinstate its company-by-company tracker of how women are faring in corporate America. It’s no longer "in the shame game," its president says; as BW’s headline says, "a little shame goes a long way" to spurring gender diversity in the executive suite.

Fortune guesses at John Malone’s next moves in the satellite TV game.

Shirley Brady

• Click here for 360AM news briefing for Friday, Apr. 6 >>

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